By Kelly Rippel.
Change is happening rapidly in rural states these days, and Kansas is no exception. Intense weather events and damaging tariffs are directly harming farming communities, while rural health disparities have become a nationwide area of focus and investment. With expanding sustainable technology and manufacturing sectors of its economy, the “Free State” is growing in exciting ways. At the same time, citizens are still witnessing attempts to stifle progress under the guise of higher moral judgment. An example has come from the “old guard” of misinformed, zero-tolerance proponents of the drug war. There are decision-makers who, on the one hand, approved of an industrial hemp law in 2018, yet those same people maintain that regulating or decriminalizing cannabis (even for medicinal purposes) is completely unacceptable.
To show just how out-of-touch this perspective is compared to public opinion, we must turn to localized data. According to the recent Kansas Speaks Fall 2019 Statewide Opinion Survey from Fort Hays State University and Docking Institute, “61.3% of respondents ‘strongly support’ or ‘somewhat support’ legalizing recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older.” Suffering patients and their caretakers have especially grown tired of being ignored by opponents, causing many longtime Kansans to leave the state indefinitely.
Signaling a continuing shift in paradigms, two years ago the spring 2017 survey reported overall support for adult use was 50%. The report had an additional question specifically regarding medical cannabis. That year “over three-quarters (76%) of respondents at least ’somewhat support’ medical marijuana, while 14% of respondents at least ‘somewhat oppose.’ Of the political categories, only the strongest Republicans were more likely to oppose than support allowing medical marijuana.”
After watching Kansas become surrounded by three legal states and a fourth on the way, people are asking if current lawmakers can even reach an objective consensus. What we do know is while legal states are documenting both benefits and issues with changing law structures, data is consistently showing legalization is working. The good news is, those unwilling to acknowledge the failures of prohibition or protect public health and safety by updating policies are dropping in number, and influence.
Options On The Table
During this past October, a special committee on federal and state affairs heard testimonies and discussed crafting a medical cannabis bill to introduce into the Kansas House and Senate. Between two different meetings more than sixty-five testimonies were submitted, but only a fifth were opponents of legalization. The change in societal perception about cannabis had been …
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